How do we bring a Common Cause approach into our organisations when they might not want to consider it?

This was the question that we discussed last night at the 10:10 office in Camden. We heard four different stories from NGO staff who have tried to bring frames and values thinking into their organisation - with varying degrees of success and difficulty. Out of these conversations emerged some principles and patterns that we started to see within each of the stories, which we wanted to share.

  • Find your allies - externally and internally, and start inviting people into the conversation. Use these external allies as leverage internally.
  • Follow the energy - it doesn't matter whether the person who is excited about it works in fundraising/policy/campaigns/programmes. Build on the energy that already exists.
  • Convincing the top doesn't mean change across the organisation - lobbying for support from senior management is helpful in terms of legitimacy and (sometimes) access to resource, but often has very little impact in terms of the work done by the rest of the organisation. Focus on where there's enthusiasm, not seniority.
  • Theory alone won't convince people - have stories, case studies and examples at hand to illustrate what you're advocating.
  • Just Do It - nobody is going to give you permission to start doing it, so we have to lead beyond authority.
  • It takes time.
  • It takes courage.
  • Create a story of continuity - find the elements of your work that already apply the principles of Common Cause and then create the red thread to what you want to do differently. A narrative that stresses complete breaks with the present can scare people and create unnecessary resistance to new ideas and practices.
  • Keep learning - no resting on laurels!

Thanks to Dan, Andy and the 10:10 team for hosting us.